Argumentative Essay. Below are two ideas to choose from, or you can do a blend of both. You’ll want to have an overriding thesis for the entire essay, but you have the option of one or both of these ideas to blend together for your essay. Muse des Beaux Arts offers a layered perspective on the Greek myth of Icarus, which can be read as a moral tale about excessive ambition and its consequences. Brueghel, an Old Master, interpreted the myth in painting by changing the setting to a sixteenth- century Dutch peasant society. The speaker in the poem, looking at the painting, gives his own gloss on the painting and the myth. Describe the speakers views about suffering. Does your understanding of the poem depend on seeing the Brueghel painting? Look up Ovids story of Icarus and his father, Daedalus, and read it carefully. Then study a reproduction of Brueghels Icarus, paying attention to the details Auden describes in his poem. Write an essay discussing Audens use of story and painting in Muse des Beaux Arts. Are story and painting equally important to the poems message and effects? To consider a comparison of Auden’s poem with the poem “Myth” by Natasha Trethewey, first understand the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in the underworld. (In short, Orpheus goes to the underworld to try to rescue his recently dead wife Eurydice, and he sings so well that he is allowed to lead her back to the land of the living, with one condition: He is not allowed to look back at her until they are out of the underworld. Unfortunately, he does glance back, and he loses her forever.) This myth is invoked by the title of the poem, Myth, as well as by the speakers references, for example, my eyes open, I find you do not follow (line 8). Similarly, the palindromic structure of the poem formally echoes Orpheuss descent into the underworld and then ascent out of it. Both Natasha Tretheweys Myth and W. H. Audens Muse des Beaux Arts rely upon the readers being familiar with the myths to which they refer. Write an essay that compares the two poems use of myth. How does myth inspire the poet? How is it used by each poet as a means of expression and and thought? In what different ways do Auden and Trethewey allude to myths? About the critical source, you can use whatever essays I’ve provided, plus one of your own taken from the library database. The Seminole library databases I suggest are Gale and Artemis. You can find them by entering into the library system online. Please do not use Shmoop, Owl, Wikipedia, Poets.org, or any other Internet websites other than the Seminole library.
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